Uploaded: Monday, July 23, 2001, 2:45
Scientist casts doubt on where Fitzhugh wife
Kenneth Fitzhugh expected to take stand Tuesday
by Bill D'Agostino
A San Francisco forensic scientist testified this morning in the
murder trial against former Southgate resident Kenneth Fitzhugh,
saying that he believes Fitzhugh's wife Kristine was assaulted in
the basement, not in the kitchen, as the prosecution contends.
Jim Norris, the director of forensic sciences for the San Francisco
Police Department, testified that some of the evidence that pointed
to the assault having taken place in the kitchen was "unreliable,"
especially because emergency personnel contaminated the kitchen
by tracking blood there after trying to revive Kristine.
Kenneth Fitzhugh is on trial for allegedly killing his wife, a
Palo Alto music teacher. The prosecution believes that Fitzhugh
killed his wife in the kitchen, but then dragged her body into the
basement to make it look like she had fallen.
Fitzhugh is expected to take the stand Tuesday. He is expected
to testify that he recently underwent hypnosis which allowed him
to remember how bloody shoes and shirt -- later discovered by police
-- got into his sport-utility vehicle after the attack. When initially
questioned, Fitzhugh said that he was "dumbfounded" how the shirt
and shoes got into the vehicle, but Nolan believes that Fitzhugh
was so emotionally damaged by seeing his wife's dead body, he repressed
This morning, Norris, called as a witness by Fitzhugh's attorney
Thomas Nolan, testified that there wasn't any blood found between
the kitchen and the basement, leading him to believe that the body
couldn't have been dragged down the stairs after it had been injured.
In cross-examination, however, Deputy District Attorney Michael
Fletcher got Norris to admit that if Kristine's head had been wrapped
in laundry, it's "possible" that no blood would have dripped on
the floor. Laundry and plastic laundry bags were discovered adjacent
to Kristine's body in the basement.
Norris also said that the results that the Palo Alto Police Department
obtained using luminol -- a chemical which reacts with blood to
create a bright blue glow -- were suspect because there could have
been other materials that would have made the floor glow when sprayed
Police believe that the luminol showed evidence of a clean up
having occurred in the kitchen after the assault.
According to Nolan, the next witnesses for the defense this afternoon
will be a blood spatter expert, a cell phone expert to rebuff the
prosecution's claim that Fitzhugh was near his home after the assault
(and not along U.S. Highway 101 as he had earlier claimed), and
two character witnesses.
The hypnotist who helped Fitzhugh remember the events is also
expected to testify to the reliability of that memory.